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Hackers target popular adultery websites, demand their closures

Ashley Madison

Millions who have subscribed to online infidelity website Ashley Madison to spice up their lives might have gotten more than they bargained for.

As noted by Krebs on Security, Hackers claim to have stolen the details of the millions of members of websites run by Avid Life Media, which also includes Cougar Life and Established Men.

The group behind the hack calls itself the Impact Team and claims to have complete access to the company's database that stores user records as well as financial data.

A tiny fraction of the bounty collected has been released online and ALM has confirmed that the published material is indeed genuine. Up to 37m users could be affected including 1.2m in the UK alone.

What? No ransom?

Surprisingly, the entity is not looking for any financial remuneration. Instead, they want Avid Life Media to close down permanently Established Men and Ashley Madison but not Cougar Life.

Otherwise, they will "release all customer records including profiles with all the customers' secret sexual fantasies and matching credit card transactions, real names and addresses, and employee documents and emails."

Given the hackers' insistence on closing the websites rather than taking a fat wad of cash (or even keep quiet and sell data elsewhere), one wonders what their real motivations are.

The hack came only a couple of months after another popular online dating website, Adult FriendFinder, was compromised with the personal details and sexual preferences of its millions of users being peddled online.

Desire Athow

Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Then followed a weekly tech column in a local business magazine in Mauritius, a late night tech radio programme called Clicplus and a freelancing gig at the now-defunct, Theinquirer, with the legendary Mike Magee as mentor. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global techfests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. He has an affinity for anything hardware and staunchly refuses to stop writing reviews of obscure products or cover niche B2B software-as-a-service providers.